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Cody Banks 2: Destination London

01/05/2004. Contributed by Frank Ochieng

Buy Cody Banks 2: Destination London in the USA - or Buy Cody Banks 2: Destination London in the UK

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The misguided adventures of the awkward junior secret agent continue in the mind numbing and anemic sequel Cody Banks 2: Destination London. Quite frankly, Frank reckons that Cody & company need to consider quitting the spy business altogether.

Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004). MGM. 1 hour. 35 minutes. Starring: Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Hannah Spearritt, Cynthia Stevenson, Daniel Roebuck, Anna Chancellor, Keith Allen, James Faulkner, Keith David Directed by: Kevin Allen.

In 2003 audiences were introduced to a Seattle-based half-pint James Bond wannabe in the form of Harald Zwart's peek-a-boo protagonist Cody Banks, boy wonder operative for the CIA. A year later, director Kevin Allen handles the honor of continuing the misguided adventures of the awkward junior secret agent in the numbing and anemic sequel Cody Banks 2: Destination London.

Quite frankly, Cody and company need to consider quitting the spy business altogether. Based on the relatively surprise hit that the original film turned out to be, the filmmakers behind this gratingly goofy gadget-size kiddie caper decided that the pimple-faced protector against evil would make another encore big screen visit.

Thus, the exploits in Cody Banks 2: Destination London unnecessarily subjects the juvenile audiences to rudimentary and recycled cheeky material trying to pass itself off as palatable high-tech children entertainment.



Malcolm in the Middle TV star Frankie Muniz is back in the mischievous shoes of the adventurous teen danger dude Cody Banks. When we last saw Muniz as the sawed-off secret agent, he was fighting an aversion to his uneasiness with girls while taking on a wily scientist and his army of destructive robots.

Poor Cody may have been saturated with the responsibility of serving his government but the spunky baby-faced agent accomplished his duty despite the demands of his schoolwork and personal domestic commitments at the homestead. One might guess that it's all in a day's work for an acne-clad undercover agent trying to save the world while maintaining his growing pains, huh? Whatever.

Of course the first installment of Agent Cody Banks arrived on the scene during the tail end popularity of the Spy Kids movie series. Since filmmaker Robert Rodriguez's campy adolescence espionage product proved to be a stylistically winning formula with moviegoers young and old, the handlers behind Cody Banks thought it would be savvy enough to capitalize on the momentum and create their own buzz. Naturally the results were favorable hence the meager follow-up with Destination London.

But the novelty has gradually worn off with sketchy kiddie capers trying to outdo one another in this overcrowded genre: The Perfect Score, Catch That Kid and now the extended edition of Cody Banks and his silly-minded and tedious missions. Overall, Cody Banks 2: Destination London is a disposable kid-driven vehicle that has no unique spark or sense of imagination attached to its lame pedigree.

The premise involves our super spy scamp Cody attending a CIA training facility known as Kamp Woody (stop if you have already detected an intended double entendre) for the agency's boyish participants. Anyway, Kamp Woody is sort of a summer camp for secretive young cads brushing up on their spying skills and learning the latest trick of the trade in the convoluted industry of intrigue. And much like Cody, these young men must hide their risque occupation from their parents and other loved ones for the sake of national security.

Things are pretty much normal around the training grounds until a traitorous CIA camp counselor/agent named Diaz (Keith Allen, sibling of this film's director) decides to turn fiendishly opportunistic and hatch his own selfish plan to boost his financial interests. He does so by stealing a vital mind-control device that was very top secret to his unsuspecting employer. Without any thought whatsoever, Diaz has no shame in bargaining this critical stolen property to whoever is willing to pay the lucrative price for his deceit.

Because Cody was tricked into letting Diaz go free without realizing what the scheming bad apple agent had accomplished, he is held accountable for the ruse that was perpetrated. Hence the CIA director (Keith David) assigns the befuddled Banks to retrieve the device and put a stop to the further damage that the conniving Diaz may cause as the result of his defiance. Cody is sent on his assignment across the pond to pose as a music student studying his craft.

His destination will take him to a boarding school in London where he will be able to surveillance the scene and keep an eye on his intended target. The school's headmaster/scientist Kenworth (James Faulkner) is the potential buyer of the American mind-controlling machine so it goes without saying that Cody needs to concentrate his efforts on this suspect's every suspicious move. Also, the tricky part about Cody's cover as a clarinet enthusiast is that his prime target's wife Jo Kenworth (Anna Chancellor) is the one sponsoring his participation in the heralded youth orchestra.

Cody Banks is afforded some company and companionship in carrying out his important case. He is accompanied by fellow agent and buffoonish handler/sidekick Derek (Anthony Anderson, Kangaroo Jack). Derek's cover is that of the school's cook where Cody currently resides. The tandem must conceive a way in which to prevent the sordid Diaz and his official partner-in-crime Kenworth from using the coveted device to take over the world at the diabolical insistence of their whims.

Specifically, the tool is meant to manipulate the world leaders. The unlikely pair is viewed upon as wacky hence begging the lingering question: are they really qualified to have our fate in their clumsy hands? That's the point...Cody and Derek are the hapless heroes out to rescue the world in a sea of forced laughs and lethargic lunacy that's meant as this film's winking gag.

Later on as the proceedings unravel, Cody manages to hook up with a fellow music student in the form of Emily (Hannah Spearritt). Emily, as it turns out, is the underage estrogen version of what Cody is and has the same agenda to stop the bad guys before they rule the world with their sinister deeds. When the trio of Cody, Derek and Emily aren't putting their collective heads together in reference to halting the perverse progress of Diaz and his accomplice then the film bogs itself down in the uneventful profiles of the diverse orchestra of ethnic prototypes that cross our leading lad's path.

There's a lot of static that one could point out in the woefully disjointed Cody Banks 2: Destination London that will probably be deemed dismissive due to its concoction as an irreverent showcase of family fare. Allen has no clue that his witless and scattershot narrative wreaks of ingredients so intolerable that it makes the first Cody Banks flick look like an American Film Institute entry by comparison.

Incessantly dumb and needlessly insulting, Allen has no vision in the way he helms this staggering and ill-conceived action-comedy that manages to go through the stale motions. This movie is predictably pointless and for a so-called kid-oriented exposition, the suggestive overtones of this flick are inappropriate with its passing nod to occasional sexual innuendo. More so, the film's logic is out of balance and goes way beyond the allowable implausibility factors tolerated for a quirky kiddie caper to indulge in with noted flair.

As Cody Banks, Muniz is rather wooden and appears quite bored with the second helping of his techo-tyke alter ego. In fact, the way that Muniz portrays Cody is bewildering because he comes off more as a precocious pipsqueak than he does an impressionable agent still trying to learn the ropes of his high stakes profession. Anderson was added to the mix to counteract his stiffness with his animated tomfoolery. Unfortunately for Anderson's Derek, he comes off as the quintessential modern day roly-poly ebony clown whose overbearing antics in this flimsy fantasy is wince-inducing.

Somehow the embarrassing black characterization of the jubilant Derek prancing around like some stereotypical minstrel oaf around the streets of London justifies this staid film's definition of illustrating comic relief. To bring some pretentious balance to Derek's presence as the token minority lackey, Allen joyfully throws in the sensible colorful international students and has Cody mingle with them judiciously. Gee, how liberating - right?

The other supporting characters are sloppily thrown into the mix without so much as having them contribute anything worthwhile to this halfhearted dud. Spearritt's British spy tart Emily is the little leading lady meant to bring an equal and sufficient partnership to the mayhem but her association and mutual attraction for Cody is inexplicably lost in the shuffle.

Spearritt has no noticeable chemistry with Muniz and begs us to recall the preferable and energetic damsel Hilary Duff from the previous film. As the resident villain, Keith Allen brings no real panache to Diaz in what amounts to be a throwaway screen foe in this dispiriting piece of dreck.

It's a mystery as to why anyone would consider this second go around of Cody Banks worth the fuss but the reality is that he's back and hasn't coughed up anything refreshing since his last exhaustive appearance. In actuality, Destination London is one interminable mission that definitely needs to be aborted.

Frank Ochieng

(c) Frank Ochieng 2004

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